I’ve always been a fan of a humble pot of soup, long before the days when I started to cook for myself and realised what a simple, inexpensive and flexible dish soup could be.
As a child, my favorite soup was good ol’ pumpkin soup, closely followed by leek and potato. I loved it served with a crusty buttered bread roll to dunk into the bowl and scoop the soup up with.
When I was 12 years old, my parents separated and Mum moved out, which left my Dad to take over cooking duties. Not being too comfortable or knowledgeable in the kitchen, he decided to try his hand at an “easy” option and whip up a pot of my beloved pumpkin soup. Instead of going down the easy route a reaching for the nearest Women’s Weekly cookbook however, Dad decided to try his hand at improvising.
Into the pot went a few large chunks of pumpkin, water to cover, and a generous sprinkle of salt and pepper. They boiled away until Dad decided the pumpkin seemed tender enough, after which he drained the water and pulled out the potato masher which he used to “puree” the pumpkin. The mashed pumpkin was then scooped into serving bowls. The creme de la creme of Dad’s pumpkin soup was – quite fittingly – a very generous “drizzle” of thick cream.
I stared skeptically at the bowl of soup the was placed in front of me at the table – it looked innocent enough, though the soup seemed quite thick and chunky, and the elegant finishing of cream seemed to be of equal proportions to the soup. Not wanting to discourage Dad on his adventurous cooking attempt, I happily sampled the dish. It was at this point I could no longer hide my disdain – the bowl of salty mashed pumpkin and cream fell very short of the standard I had grown to expect when it came to pumpkin soup!
Luckily for my Dad (and me!) he remarried someone a few years later who not only enjoyed cooking, but pumpkin soup was one of her specialties. This worked out quite well for me, and also for my father who never enjoyed cooking and would much prefer spending his spare time devoted to one of his many other hobbies.
Needless to say, Dad hasn’t progressed much in the cooking space since the Fateful Mashed-Pumpkin Soup Incident of 1996.
My love for cooking is definitely inherited from my mother, who cooked me up this delicious pot of vegetable and bean soup while staying with us recently. Inspired by the Italian vegetable soup minestrone (which, despite growing up in an Italian family, was nothing something that we usually ate), this dish has been tweaked a little by Mum, and then by me after making it a few times since. It’s rich, hearty and warming, and the flavours develop over time – this soup definitely tastes best a day or two after it’s made (dont all soups!?)
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 large celery stalks, sliced
- 2 large carrots, sliced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 Tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1 tsp pepper
- ½ lemon juice
- 2 Tbsp good quality red wine vinegar
- 2 large zucchini, thinly sliced
- 1 can diced tomatoes
- 2 cups cooked (or canned beans)
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over low to medium heat. Add the onions, celery, carrots, garlic and rosemary and cook, stirring occassionally 10 minutes.
- Add the lemon, vinegar, zucchini, salt and pepper and cook another 10 minutes.
- Add the toatoes, beans and stock. Bring to a simmer and cook 20 - 25 minutes.
- Allow to cool slightly before serving.